My dreams were so vivid and peculiar, I feel the need to write them down. There were three of them and I can’t remember in what order they came, or if I moved back and forth between them.
We were sharing our house with our former French au pair boy Fred, who had the top floor. The ceiling was very high and he (or we) had lowered it by an aerial arrangement of suspended rush beach mats, which gave the room the look of an east African safari tent. This space was known as Freshford Gardens.
On the wall was a portrait drawing of a dark-haired girl with a long flat nose. She bore no resemblance to anyone I know, but I would recognise her in the street without difficulty and say confidently, you are the girl of my dream. She reminds me slightly of a platypus or the small shrew which lives in the sofa at my sister’s house in Wales.
Fred was upset about something, so my wife gave him a hug. He burst into tears and explained that he loved the girl in the picture, who had been murdered in a supermarket in some unspecified far eastern country, by the old man standing next to her at the check-out. “He did it with his stick,” said Fred who demonstrated pushing the stick into her and around her insides, twisting it like a corkscrew as he pushed it down a leg, dynorod fashion.
“Why?” we asked. “She had something he wanted,” said Fred.
I wondered if the murderer got away or was apprehended, but the dream did not reveal this information.
Our attic is infested with rats. I am not sure if this attic belongs to the same house as Freshford Gardens, or somewhere else. A friend (unidentified) who has 20 parrots is going away on holiday and suggests to us that if we put the parrots in our attic they will eat the rats and solve our problem. We agree to this suggestion, but soon regret it. What about all the parrot poo? Put down some newspaper, says our friend. What – with all the rats up there? What if the parrots escape? Put a couple in the attic to start with, says the friend, and see how it goes. Won’t the parrots be terribly noisy? How will we get them out of the attic when the friend returns? I think we are going to tell our friend we can’t have the parrots after all.
I am on the Cresta Run, lying on my sledge, head first in the approved manner. I set off determined not to brake too hard with my spiked boots, because I have been told that many beginners are over-cautious on their first run. I negotiate the first corner without difficulty, then, as the run steepens I find myself going more and more slowly as the ice walls of the chute close in on me. I hold my breath, and wish I wasn’t wearing my thick army surplus greatcoat. I know I won’t have enough speed to reach the buffer of hay bales at the end of the run. Not reaching the hay bales is the ultimate humiliation for the Cresta rider.
At the bottom I stand up and grab my toboggan, which is not a flimsy little tea-tray as used on the Cresta, but a heavy antique wooden sledge made for four riders. That may explain why I had so much difficulty coming down.
My wife and our son arrive soon after me, sitting upright on their shared sledge, he behind her. It’s another heavy old toboggan, similar to mine. Cowardy custard, I taunt my son. That’s not fair! he shouts. There was only one sledge, so mummy and I had to share.
Why are we on these ridiculous sledges? I ask my wife.
Don’t complain, she says. We haven’t had to pay. Now we need to leave – quick!